Category Archives: health

Debussy Reverie

Some Sunday thoughts require the right music.

Some Sunday thoughts actually are music.

rev·er·ie

/ˈrev(ə)rē/

noun

  • 1.a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream:”a knock on the door broke her reverie

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I had originally thought to call this post “A Walk with God.” But that would probably offend my Christian friends and alienate my Jehovah’s Witness wife. It would bother my intellectual atheist friends too. Because they know I claim to be a Christian Existentialist, in other words, “an atheist who believes in God.” Agnostics are agnostics because they literally know they don’t know what is true and what is merely made up by men. And not knowing offends most people in the Western world.

But Debussy’s Reverie is a quiet walk in the sacred woods, the forest of as-yet-uncovered truths.

And that is what I need today. A quiet walk in the woods… when no literal woods are available.

This pandemic has been hard on me. I am a prisoner in my room at home most days. My soul is in darkness, knowing that the end could be right around the corner. I am susceptible to the disease. It didn’t slay me on its first visit to the house, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get me on the second or third visit. Health experts are expecting a resurgence of up to 3,000 deaths per day before the end of the year. If I am relying on luck to avoid it, luck will run out.

I am not afraid to die. I have no regrets. But I have been in a reverie about what has been in the past, what might have been, and what yet may be… if only I am granted the time.

And, as always, I feel like I have writing yet to do. I am about to finish The Wizard in his Keep. And I have stories beyond that to complete if I may.

But the most important thing right now is having time to think. Time for Reverie. And reflections upon the great symphony of life as it continues to play on… with or without me.

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Filed under artwork, healing, health, insight, Paffooney, religion

The Long Road

It came to an end for Justice Ginsberg after 87 years. It will come to an end soon for my father too. He is in hospice care at 88 years and eleven months. Her turns 89 in October. But he is deteriorating every day now. The final destination can’t be too much farther down the road for me either.

Life is not a Disney movie with Bambi in it. My mother made it out of the meadow alive when I was small.

But, when you think about it, after a cute and funny childhood, there was that moment behind the car tires when trauma struck, at age ten, and after that I had to grow up faster than should have been necessary. And in my youth and in my prime, I had to struggle to prove myself. Against other bucks, and hunters with guns, and… at the end of the movie, it seems like the whole world is on fire.

So, maybe life is like a Disney movie with Bambi in it. And maybe I have to make my own happy ending.

Perhaps Bambi is my spirit-animal. The one who protects my family. My patronus. My guardian angel.

No matter how I take it on, it has been a long and wearying road to follow. And the journey now is nearly complete. But the last few miles are always the hardest to bear. Still, I know the journey has been worth it. And there will be rest to be had in that last meadow. RGB already knows it. Soon my father will too. Peace be upon us, for we have earned it.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, family, healing, health, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Doom Looms… Yet Again

My number two son is coronavirus positive. All four of us who live in the house are now under quarantine for fourteen days (at a minimum). I have six incurable diseases, three of which; diabetes, hypertension, and COPD, the virus uses as the window to climb in and assassinate you.

We are not supposed to share a bathroom with the ill person, which is hard to do with only one bathroom. Nobody is seriously considering peeing outdoors.

We are all now wearing masks in the house. Well, except for my wife who insists she can’t breathe with a mask on all day (though she does it for her job as a Texas school teacher.) And she is a diabetic too.

What are the chances that I will still be alive in two weeks? Well, I am proceeding with the idea that I have a zero percent chance myself. I will do what I can to swim with the current. Like a good Taoist, I will not try to change the natural order of things. I have been retired now for six years, not by choice, but because of health problems. I am actuarily supposed to be dead five years ago. Heck, I had the H1N1 virus twice (both strains). The fact that I am still alive now means that I am very hard to kill.

So, I am expecting to die soon, but doing everything in my power to paddle the boat to safety in the raging river of Doom, Gloom, and rumors of Boom.

But my regrets are few. It has been a very good run. I have had a lotta laughs over 64 years. I taught for 31 years. I have written 16 novels and one book of essays. I am about halfway finished with my next novel.

I have to thank Walt Kelly’s Pogo for allowing me to steal these illustrations.

My next novel is called The Wizard in his Keep. It is about three kids who are orphaned by a car wreck, then rescued by a family friend. Their weird “Uncle” Milt Morgan has been helping to create a virtual-reality computer game called The Legend of Hoodwink. He takes them to live inside the game world. And there they discover that things have gone terribly wrong for the computer game and the company that designed it. And it’s possible that the game has been contaminated with real magic somehow. And there may no longer be any way out of the game ever again.

This book may well be my own Mystery of Edwin Drood (the last, unfinished book by Charles Dickens.) It is somehow perfect, then, that this novel was inspired by The Old Curiosity Shop, and has many Dickens references in it.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, family, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, illness, Paffooney

I’m More Alive Today Than I Was Yesterday

Yes, I use that picture to illustrate the character Milt Morgan, but it is actually me. I drew it from a school photo from grade school. And yes, that means a color photo from the 1960’s. I am now 54 years older than I was when that picture was originally taken. Being that old… not ancient, but a senior citizen, means I am not as far from the day I will die as I am from either the day I was born, the day this picture was taken, the days I graduated from high school and college, and even the day I got married. Especially since I am ill with 6 incurable diseases and conditions and living in the midst of the 2020 pandemic with anti-health President Trumpalump still in the White House.

Yesterday I woke up with my left arm numb, a sharp pain in my left armpit, a heaviness and pain in my chest, and a throbbing in my temples.

Yes, I know. I promised my family I would go to the ER if I had those Heart-Issue symptoms again.

But the last time I went to a doctor on a Saturday with those same symptoms, my EKG sent me to the ER, who charged me two hundred dollars out of pocket and sent me directly to the hospital. After more than a week of tests, drugs, and worry… no heart indications, stress test passed, and the general consensus among specialists that it was the arthritis in my rib-cage and the arthritis in my neck, near the spinal chord that caused both the anomalous EKG and the numbness in my arm. They got the same heart-warning EKG readings while I was hooked up to a machine that showed I was definitely NOT having a heart attack.

So, yesterday I gambled with my life. I stayed home. I finished my book of essays and published it on Amazon. (At least, if I died, I would leave behind one more product of wit, wisdom, and autobiography from a total idiot.)\

This morning I was better. It is not a hundred percent certain that I won’t drop dead from a heart attack or stroke, but my pains yesterday were definitely from sleeping for too long on my left side with an arthritic rib-cage. Arthritis doesn’t kill you by itself. Only when it masks the pains of something more deadly and disastrous.

So, I lucked out. And I have another finished work. It is Laughing Blue, a book of essays from this goofy little blog. Along with illustrations that I feared wouldn’t all be compatible with Amazon’s file-size limits. I appear to have been 100% victorious on that gamble too.

The book is now live on Amazon. Whether you can actually buy it or not, I don’t know yet. So, I will wait to post a link until I am sure.

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Filed under autobiography, health, illness, Paffooney, publishing

Mickey’s Somewhat Pretty Okay Not Rotten Weekend

I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.

Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.

But it is not all bad news.

My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.

And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.

It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.

And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.

So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent…

I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.

If you are not happy with the President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The Sun of York has not been the right answer.

I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.

And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I don’t think it is the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.

Still, it is probably not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only chest pain, headaches, and nausea. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year.) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I will try to stay alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.

I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, health, humor, photo paffoonies

Stuff Happens

Life is like that. You work out a plan for how to economically get through a bankruptcy and chronic ill health and retirement income not being enough to get by, and then a life-threatening pandemic happens worldwide and shoots it all to hell like a redneck shooting watermelons in the backyard with his new AR-15.

We are now stuck at home with family, unable to go anywhere but the grocery store and pharmacy. And you have to have a mask to go anywhere because you are risking death by breathing every time you have to go to the store so you can continue to eat and live. But, of course, the supply chains are failing as people get ill on the job, and most of the food shelves are practically bare.

And a way of life is dying (or is already dead). But, for those of us lucky enough to survive until this is over, and that will be most of us, it will be a chance to remake the world. Maybe people post viro-apocalypse will take climate change more seriously. Maybe our lost future will be saved because billionaires will be too ill to keep pumping coal sludge and factory waste into our drinking water and breathable air. We should definitely be able to vote Mr. Toad of Toad Hall out of the White House, put him in jail for his crimes, and elect somebody that at least says they care about about people like me who will probably die from this virus.

But for now, stuff happens. (Or in many cases, important stuff doesn’t happen.) And we must make a new plan that deals with it.

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The Truth is…

  • The truth is… this pandemic will not be the end of the world even if it is the end of me.
  • The truth is… if we don’t learn some fundamental things about ourselves, the whole world won’t survive very long after the pandemic is over. We have only a few short years to get our environmental act straight.
  • The truth is… the people who are most in control of our world have far more than their reasonable share of the wealth and power in this world, and it is not fair and healthy for our society.
  • The truth is… too often it is the selfish, narcissistic people of the world who rise to the top, and they have no compassion or regard for the rest of us.
  • The truth is… we have to change things. And violence is not the most effective answer. But besides extraordinary acts of heroism and ultimate grace from unnoticed individuals, it may be the only answer we have left. The good things Obama tried were mostly shouted down and defeated by the corrupt and greedy among us. The power of the vote may have been completely undermined.
  • The truth is… wisdom only comes through time and hard experience. If you don’t face hardships, you will never learn how to deal with hardships. That is the gift we are being given by this pandemic.
  • The truth is… our leader at this moment is a criminal. He has stolen wealth from the American people and wrecked parts of the government that are essential to the American way of life as we have always known it. And in his incompetence, he has done things and failed to do things that have caused people’s deaths in this pandemic.
  • The truth is… Trump needs to be prosecuted and put in prison once we have removed him from office.
  • The truth is… if we don’t do something to solve these problems and fix these things, we don’t deserve to survive as a species.
  • The truth is… the Truth is sometimes a very hard thing to hear.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, health, illness, Paffooney, politics

Never Say Die

Amazingly, I am still not dead. Even though this invisible virus-monster is totally new to our species and we have zero resistance and no vaccination for it, I am in a position now that, with a lot of hard work and even more good luck, I can continue to survive and stay alive.

Of course, there are evil people out there that would love it if those inconvenient poor people would just die out (people like me who spent their lives doing useless stuff like educating the next couple of generations to be people who can read and write by being a teacher). Poor people cost rich people money.

One wealthy governor has kept his State full of beaches (that benefit economically from things like Spring Break and Easter weekend) fully open for business, thus infecting scores of people that go back to home States like Texas (where I live) to spread potential death to people whose cheap-o health insurance (like mine) won’t pay to save your life because that would cut into profits.

One wealthy President has down-played the seriousness of this pandemic up until now. He has been more concerned with suppressing knowledge of how bad it is going to be (because that could sour people in his base from re-electing him in November) rather than preparing in a way that would allow healthcare workers to adequately protect themselves as they treat waves of the infected and dying, and providing more respirators to save those whose infections are suffocating them (which he simply cannot do without limiting corporate profiteering by his super-rich CEO-type buddies).

Maybe those of us who survive this pandemic should see to it that the rich, evil dudes who made this so much harder to survive lose power and profits, and maybe even go to jail for a change.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, Paffooney, satire

You Are Not Alone

Well, here I am now. Shut down and quarantined, not because I have Covid 19, which I don’t, even though I can’t prove that. Rather, it is because I am a high risk individual. Coronavirus could kill me easily. And also because the world is shut down around us. No school. Officially for this week, but probably for the rest of the school year.

So, what will I do now? Well, write more on my novel, of course. But this is not the 19th Century. There are ways to reach out to friends and family instantly, by phone, or Skype, or Facebook, or instant messenger… And you need to check on them. Keep them from feeling isolated and alone. Especially if, like me, you or any of them are at risk from this pandemic. We are not living in the days of the Black Death or the Spanish Flu. We are able to actively connect with others to keep the depression monsters at bay. And no one gets physically sick from a phone call. (I honestly hope that is the truth.) I talked with my octogenarian parents last night, and texted my 60-something sister just to talk and reconnect. My daughter talked to her grandmother in Iowa. My number two son has online friends in Europe and South America. We have family in the Philippines. And I can write this blog post for you. How is your family doing? Do you know somebody that is at risk? Reach out to them. It may be the phone call that saves their life, and then the invention of the telephone will be validated and justified.

And hopefully, with the use of modern communication devices, you won’t infect them with anything, and they won’t infect you. Not even Mr. Grupp.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, healing, health, illness, inspiration, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life